Thursday, August 18, 2011

CHOIR HOW-TO -- Costume -- Part Four: Period Wear -- Medieval/Renaissance to Victorian Era

Period wear at Rideau Hall
Pierre and Holly at Rideau Hall, 1901 -- uh, I mean, 2001
Who doesn't love to dress up? Lots of people, I guess. Luckily I jump at the chance to wear costume. At least I used to. When I was ... younger. Anyway, this post features one-shot costumes. All period pieces -- all for specific occasions.

Doing costume for theater productions at Ottawa U taught me some invaluable tips and shortcuts.

1. If it can't be seen it doesn't matter. Always have safety pins (for sudden costume malfunctions), petroleum jelly (for shining shoes, slicking hair etc) and duct tape (for hems and edges) on hand.

2. For Period costume -- I always teach my Drama students to look at the Silhouette of each period. The web page below from the National Arts Centre explains this better than I could here.


3. Do some research! Here's the link for the above embedded page. They have tons of info -- and are master costumers.

4.Dig through available closets and jewellery boxes -- use your imagination before you spend money.

Medieval dressup at the National Arts Center
In Renaissance-inspired costume rented for a song from OLT From Left -- Pierre, Mike, Dawn, Me, Diane, Marjorie, Denyse, Donald and Simon
Period costume to sing madrigals at the Ottawa Tulip Festival
At Dow's lake for the Tulip Festival. Handmaiden to Queen Denyse
We were on Regional Contact so many times, and we usually wore our regular scarves and sweaters. But for one show, in 1993, we got to dress up in a range of outfits from Medieval to Victorian . Costumes again provided by Ottawa Little Theatre. The only difference was, I didn't have to drive down to OLT at King Edward Ave and Rideau Street to pick up the outfits myself.  Joel Haslam had the costumes there, all ready for us to try, when we arrived at the Billings Estate to start filming.


In 2001 we were invited to sing at the Governor General's skating party at Rideau Hall. FUN! Costume fun, anyway...but that little bit of local gossip will have to wait. We're focusing on COSTUME here. Focus.

The men wore OLT's tail tuxedos and we girls raided our wardrobes, my schools costume cupboard and local thrift shops. I reminded the girls that "VICTORIAN" means COVERED from top of the head to the toes. Cinched waists, High necks, ruffles, bustles and gloves maintained the proper silhouette for the Victorian Era. "Good enough for Jazz", as my dad used to say.
Victorian wear at the Rideau Hall skating party
Ready to sing for the Governor General's Skating Party at Rideau Hall, Ottawa

More details on former Governor General Adrian Clarkson and the Rideau Hall skating party gig in a future post.

NEXT... our now-famous Christmas CLOAKS become reality thanks to a wonderful Vogue pattern!

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